After witnessing Asmongold and Quin69 stumbling around trying to find the best speedruns to watch after finishing the From catalog (or most of it), it’s clear that it’s not a very easy landscape to navigate. Game version (DS:R and SOTFS compared to vanilla DS1/2), broad category (any% / all bosses), specific category (current patch / glitchless / no restrictions) and format (GDQ, ESA, some random Chinese stream at 360p) makes it pretty messy, and with a chat present it’s even worse as they’ll tell you to watch some year old 10 minute slower run from their favorite streamer or a 5 hour long no hit run instead. Above is a list of the runs I’d recommend if you really want commentary/explanations, and if not links to the leaderboard for each game and category. Here are some notes before I get into the reasoning for my picks:
- I’ll be valuing a mix of skilful use of the game’s mechanics (both combat and movement/stealth/magic etc.) and cool/hard skips, but if you want to just see someone fighting the bosses perfectly as “intended” then it’s better to look up a youtube video for that.
- Speedrun.com isn’t always up do date and have some strict rules. E.g. DSR All Bosses doesn’t have Dist’s run that I linked above since he takes a break in the main menu, and Sekiro is too active for them to keep up ATM. Searching Youtube may yield some more or better runs.
- Alternate formatting at Reddit. Both will be updated.
This game has a lot of routing potential due to the open structure, but really any run demonstrates that well enough so if you’re just looking for the single best run to see some cool strats and skilful play, Remastered All Bosses is the run for that. Remastered was abandoned pretty quickly and PTDE is where you should look for anything else, as it has the more competitive times for similar categories, as well as more categories and better routes. The main difference lies in the inability to moveswap, meaning every Remastered run will use the Black Knight’s Halberd (barring the first few bosses) while the vanilla runs use a variety of big weapons with thrusting running attacks. Any% is the most interesting category to watch for pure science, possibly commentated as it’s not entirely clear how wrong warp works, and then past that there’s a lot of variations between categories and within the all bosses category. Not much to offer if you’re just looking for 1-2 runs of each game, but great to keep an eye on and follow streamers of. It’s best to just explore the leaderboard IMO which lists which route each run is, and then there’s the race up above which has 4 different routes going on at once for some information overload. The no hit run is also a good time, long of course and using the same weapon with RTSR but the routing is quite different with no skips.
Dark Souls 2
This is my favorite speedgame of the bunch, there’s a few different routes for all bosses, and any% has evolved a lot from parrywalk and binoboost to the current 5 rotten + cat ring skip. SOTFS is a quite different version of the same game which also has promise, but sadly it’s irrelevant as it has random Forlorn invasions, which can cost you up to ~40 sec, and statues and DLC keys also makes it a strictly slower (i.e. less competitive) version. Vanilla all bosses is really great (Aldia got patched in so you’re not missing any bosses either), any% is a must watch crazy glitched run, and any% CP is very different from both and showcases the quadruple Rotten fights any DS2 speedrunner knows and loves. Then there’s also old patch, pre-DLC all bosses which uses binoboost and parryskip to zoom around but still fighting all the bosses instead of skipping 90% of them.
When it comes to no hit runs SOTFS is the “definitive” edition so no hit runners’ honor keeps them shackled to it, and they also have the time to deal with Forlorn’s bullshit. Any% does the usual melee restriction which means using the exact same weapon as every speedrun, I’d definitely recommend the All Bosses run instead which respecs several times and has some extremely impressive strategies.
I’ve watched quite little of BB so take this with a grain of salt. Any% has a lot of skips, old patch has duping on top of that and only features 5 bosses, while CP is 2 more bosses without duping but with some different skips (it also doesn’t have extremely long load times). All the marathon runs of this are over estimate and 50%+ longer than the WR, which is a shame since the skips are the main attraction (you’ll see the same bosses in more or less the same order if you watch all bosses). The all bosses run abuses the game mechanics beautifully, backstabs and limb breaking are probably not things you used much of but they allow for pretty cheesy kills of a lot of bosses. For slightly less cheese / DPS, BL4 is cool but it does use the same weapon and such so it has limited appeal IMO. The no hit is my least favorite no hit I think, though I haven’t seen as many of them so maybe other routes are more interesting. A lot of bosses are cheesed with BBP and limb breaking etc., same as the speedrun. The ones you can’t cheese, like Maria for example, are done with the same old boring strat of kiting, baiting a single attack, punishing that and then kiting again.
Sekiro has some crazy airswimming that breaks the game, any% Shura is the best category to just see that and the Shura bosses are fought legit, after that I’d recommend all beads/ng memories to see the other bosses as well as a lot of cool miniboss strats, using stealth and moving quickly through the levels while grabbing the notable items (a lot of airswimming but it doesn’t skip anything meaningful IMO). This run also doesn’t need to do Ogre skip, which is cancer to perform and has stopped some runners from continuing to run the other categories. There’s some cheese and skips that are present in both so MY NAME, Demon, Genichiro and Monks won’t be fought straight and you’ll have to look elsewhere for that. Since the game is so short and area difficulty is extremely low, no hit runs don’t have much to offer besides really demanding execution and strats. From what I’ve seen, strats are mostly old, peach or current speedrun strats, and while it’s satisfying to see fights done “perfectly”, a Youtube video compiling those is a much more efficient way of seeing that (e.g. this, though that’s NG++ so it’s different, and he’s shit at headless ape).
Nioh has broken magic and elemental damage, it’s a cool run and has some really interesting builds (level 1 is very different for example), but it’s not a very good speedgame since it’s linear and level based with no major skips possible, and different builds doesn’t result in different routes.
Salt and Sanctuary abuses how OP greatscissors and magic are which can be fun to see if you haven’t used them yourself, and the routing is cool since it’s a metroidvania. It’s been a while since I watched these but Any% is broken and short so that’s fun to witness, then NMG Any% uses greatscissors and such, All Bosses NMG is pretty lacking in the spells you get and doesn’t have any unique skips or strats that makes it stand out so I’d watch the regular all bosses run. I think there was a melee route for all bosses that I watched too, but both are pretty OP and there’s no SL1 runs to see more drawn out fights.
Death’s Gambit trades in healing for damage and uses the firebomb equivalent to kill bosses, I haven’t played it and only watched a run at GDQ though.
Thanks for reading
There are some holes so if you have a run you really like, or one you think I’ve misrepresented here, please do tell. If you want to read up on the different routes, get into speedrunning yourself, or any other kind of info, here’s a few links: